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And the Palme d'Or Goes To....

The 58th Cannes Film Festival concluded after ten days of glorious cinema on May 21, and the distinguished jury of the official selection awarded prizes to directors, actors and screenwriters. The closing ceremony was officiated by Cécile de France who called on jury president Emir Kusturica to reveal the recipients of the awards.

Two Palme d'Or, Two Brothers!
The coveted "Palme d'Or" went to L'Enfant (The Child)directed by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, the story of a couple who sell their baby and then try to get it back. The brothers admitted they were "not back to earth yet" after receiving the award, and thanked the cast and crew, dedicating the Palme d'Or to them. Luc Dardenne revealed he knew several people on the jury and was grateful for their decision to reward their film. The awards were presented to the two French brothers by Academy Award winners Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman.

The subject of awards brought various comments from the winners and became a contemplation on what it means to win at a film competition. Jim Jarmusch won the "Grand Prize of the Jury" for Broken Flowers about a man who receives a letter from a son he's never met and looks up his old flames in a journey to reconnect with his past. Perhaps the most articulate spokesman on the meaning of awards, Jarmusch recalled the year David Cronenberg was the president of the jury and how the winners were unexpected. (Ironically in 1999, the year the Dardenne brothers won the Palme d'Or for Rosetta). The director recalled how the jury choices were perceived as a "backlash" because of the unanticipated awards. His film Ghost Dog was in competition and he admitted the film didn't "need" the win as others did. At times like this its best to be reminded that is "valuable to shine light on a film, and help people to see them", said the acclaimed indies director. Films can't be judged, said Jarmusch, who called awards "contradictory" and "subjective". Last year in an unprecendented press conference held by the jury headed by president Quentin Tarantino, the motivation behind the awards was explained. This was not duplicated this year and probably never will be again.

The Jury Prize went to Shanghai Dreams directed by Wang Xiaoshuai, the story of rural migration from urban areas in mainland China during the 60's and intergenerational conflict about rooting.

Best Director Michael Haneke, Caché (Hidden) was perhaps the most pragmatic spokesperson on the meaning of awards. "You don't come to a competition and not want to win something!"

Best Actress Hanna Laslo, Free Zone explained that "every good comedian is a good actor" and pointed out the connection between "laughing and crying". She believed her role was important for instilling humor in a subject that often causes people to channel switch: the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. She is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and believes that humor and forgiveness is the only way to touch people about the realities of the present situation.

Best Actor Tommy Lee Jones was acknowledged for his role as a Texas foreman in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, a film that serves as his directorial debut. The acclaimed actor stated that "Mexican cinema is bright and not based on cynical ambition but cinema", although "at present cinema is poor in Mexico and there is not a lot of it". Therefore Jones is looking forward to "what is going to happen". He revealed how the awards made him feel honored at "the most prestigious film festival in the world". Best Screenplay Guillermo Arriaga, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada revealed that he had visited Cannes as a young man and planned to return one day. Arriaga said the award was "the highest honor of my life".

There was a tie this year for the "Caméra d'Or" award. The Forsaken Land directed by Vimukthi Jayasundara was one of the awards. The Sri Lankan director was surprised at his win because of the experimental form of his film - a contemplation about being in a suspended state between war and peace. The other tie was Me and You and Everyone We Know directed by Miranda July about a meeting between a performance artist and a shoesaleman. July claimed her journey began 15 hours earlier when she received the call about her award and "got in a cab", direction Cannes.

The best Short Film award went to the Ukrainian film Podorozhni (Wayfarers) directed by Igor Strembitskyy who revealed it took three years to make it because of the difficulties of filmmaking in his country.

Moira Sullivan

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